The central principle /10

November 23rd, 2019

One way to understand the central principle is with chord playing.

Try this exercise.

Play a chord with the open 6th, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st strings, in effect, an e-minor chord.

First, try to play the chord with just the fingers. Keep the hand perfectly still. Let the fingers pluck the chord by themselves, without any movement in the hand.

Now, play the chord again, this time allowing the hand to move upward slightly as you pluck the strings.

You’ll find the second way much more natural and relaxed. By integrating the hand into the plucking, the fingers hardly have to move at all, most of the motion coming from the hand moving upward.

Now, take time to watch some good players on youtube.

I recommend John Williams because his technique is so spare and economical.

Watch any video of his and you will notice that when he plays chords, there’s a very slight almost imperceptible upward bounce in his hand. That’s the central principle at work.

I randomly picked the following video:

Or watch Segovia. Any video will do but I recommend his Asturias. Watch the slight bounce in his hand as he plays the arpeggios.

His bounce is actually much more pronounced than William’s.

The bounce is the vertical application of the principle at work. It’s quite perceptible to the onlooker.

Less perceptible is the lateral application where only the player can feel the pressure of the hand against the strings.

Here is Pepe Romero explaining what it feels like. 48 seconds into the video he says, “Not only finger but I engage a little bit… the arm.”

The hand is, of course, an extension to the arm.

In fact, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the central principle emanates from. I have spoken mostly of the hand because that’s where the action is taking place, but the arm actually plays a huge role in the principle.

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